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Jen

September 4, 2017

I have always had the travel gene. When I was 7, I saw the neighbor’s station wagon packed with luggage and I asked them where they were going, “Crazy, want to come along?” I ran inside to ask my mom if I could go with them.

 

Growing up I camped and hiked almost every summer weekend. My father owned camping resorts and my step father owned a cabin in the Coeur d’ Alene mountains. By the time I was nine I could drive the family truck, shoot a .22 and fish for trout. I picked huckleberries in the summer and drove snow mobiles in the winter. I lived outside and I had the freckles to prove it.

I love the mountains and tried to instill this in my children. However, when I brought the children home for visits, we couldn’t get past the basics like rocks, hills, and cold, clear water. They were so fascinated with putting their feet in the stream running through the city park that I couldn’t get them to take hikes in the nearby mountains. The things of my childhood were foreign to my children, who were raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with it’s brackish waters, and hundreds of miles from the nearest mountain. I laugh as I write this, because this summer, once again on a trip home, my children now 19 and 22, spent their time at the same park, with their feet in the same stream.

When I was 17 and a junior in high school from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho I flew 2,800 miles to work at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. As an adult, I have always worked in the travel industry. What began with stuffing envelopes in my dad’s travel business, turned into a college job at Disney World, a stint as a travel agent, and finally owning and operating a bed and breakfast.

 

The night I met Oliver, we stayed up talking about the places we wanted to visit.  When Oliver proposed, he promised me a lifetime of adventure. After 30 years of marriage, I would say he has lived up to his promises. 

 

Over the years we traveled when we had the opportunity. We took frequent dive trips to Florida, the Caribbean and Mexico. We have visited much of Canada and all but a few US states. We have hosted exchange students and visited their families, traveling to Spain and the Canary Islands. I don’t know where the time went, but our travels have been our greatest memories. 

 

Through our summer and Christmas vacations we have tried to pass on our love for travel to our children who are now in college and having adventures of their own.

 

Oliver is an amazing father. However, to understand his travel aesthetic you should know that his favorite movie is National Lampoon’s Vacation series with Chevy Chase. Oliver has also never been an outdoorsman, but he did make one attempt in a two man tent with my son at a boy scout jamboree. They came home early the next morning and scouting and camping were never mentioned again. When he enrolled our daughter in the Girl Scouts it was just about the cookies. His travel strengths involve driving, history, line dancing, swimming and roller coasters. Therefore, vacation planning in our family is up to me.

 

On a family trip to New York, we took the kids to the beautiful Mohonk resort. Twenty minutes into a three hour family hike, our 12 year old daughter didn’t understand why we couldn’t call the concierge to come get us. I was running out of time if I was going to instill in my children a love for the outdoors. 

 

When they were 11 and 14 I finally had my chance, Oliver had a trial in LA and the kids and I could go with him for a month. I decided to take them on a road trip to Sequoia National Park. I will never forget their faces as we drove through the entrance of Sequoia with its sweeping views. After a long car ride we pulled into an open parking spot and eagerly grabbed our day packs and set off on an easy hike. They were so excited. Ollie was bouncing ahead on the trail and Liv was stopping to pose for pictures at every trail marker. I was ecstatic they were finally getting it, they were finally old enough to appreciate the great outdoors. 

 

How quickly things changed. Ollie got a little too far ahead on the trail and as Liv and I rounded a bend, we saw the hind quarters of  a mountain lion pass in front of us, his strong legs and swishing tail going down the side of the mountain into the brush. Ollie was no where in site. All I could picture was his skinny little body in the mouth of the lion. I grabbed Liv’s hand and ran ahead calling his name. Just as we turned the corner, there he was in front of a group of Japanese tourists who were motioning for us to stop. They all had their cameras out, but I was so relieved to see Ollie that I wasn’t focused on what everyone was pointing to. We looked up and on a branch over our heads were two bear cubs. I finally understood what all the fuss was about. I quickly grabbed their hands and as we were backing up, mama bear on the side of the giant Sequoia came into view. 

 

Mission accomplished, the kids were hooked! They were ready to endure another long car ride for more adventure. As I reported the mountain lion to a ranger, I inquired about Yosemite National Park. He gave me driving directions and I was sad to discover it was too far away. He then laughed and told me we it was closer if we walked. With wilderness passes ,we could hike between the two parks across the top of the Sierras on the John Muir Trail. Right there I knew I would do it, it was just like the neighbor saying “Crazy, you want to come along!” And this time I didn’t need to ask for permission!

 

 

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